Sidney Poitier won his Oscar from his second nomination for portraying Homer Smith in Lilies of the Field.
Homer Smith is not a particularly complex character that must be known. He is portrayed as a rather average guy who gets into a slightly above average situation, and reacts to it like any average guy probably would. He does not have any personal demons, trauma, addiction, nor does he need them.
This is instead the perfect example of how a great actor can do wonders with any role, whether it be an overly heavy dramatic performance, or a lighter simpler one like this. Poitier simply is an actor who there was anyone like him before he started acting, nor has there been anyone quite like him these days either. Poitier really is a one of a kind actor.
What makes him so one of a kind is clearly presented in this performance as Homer Smith. There is simply something about Poitier in this performance that makes him just so easy to watch. He has one of the most unique screen presences out of any actor ever, with his incomparable charm and charisma that simply cannot be ignored.
He uses his charm, and charisma perfectly in this role as Homer Smith. Homer as I said is just an average guy and it very well could have been an average role with a lesser actor, but Poitier truly brings Homer to life. I also do not think this is Poitier being just himself, certainly channeling his personal charm and ability but using to create Homer Smith into still his own man.
Homer wants just build something for himself well as live his life, and Poitier shows that even if a character is not one of the most complicated he still shows they can be fully realized in their simplicity. He also shows that even a simple story can be one that is incredibly enjoyable to watch.
This is a performance that I honestly loved watching, and I could go anywhere with his Homer Smith, becuase simply Poitier makes him such a joy to be around. Every moment Poitier livens them up with his unique manner and delivery that just works incredibly well. Poitier never fails to put the right emphasis on a word, or action to make even the smallest moment a delight of sorts.
I think I should note one of my favorite moments in his performance is his singing of Amen. It is not actually even him singing, but he gives a better performance singing than many actual singers. He may not be singing but he is the one who infuses the scene with his trademark charm because he shows the true joy in his performance. That is the key to the whole performance, is he always shows his joy of performance and lets the audience enjoy it along with him.